Thursday, July 12, 2007

Genuis is the opposite of cautious

I'm putting it all in this link - pictures, comments, etc - because it's always nice to see Sheila take time out from her obsessions to remember her prior obsessions. But I'm thinking specifically in this instance of the comments, and the remark I've paraphrased as the title here.

Simply put, I enjoy moments like this. No, not that somebody got himself killed in a duel by refusing to fight back; I mean the moment where a genius, on realizing that the plan isn't going working, decides "Screw it. Stand back and watch it happen" - and then guns the engines and roars into action.

Afterwards they can be bored, arrogant, and petulant. Not that geniuses can't also be supreme jerks, but it really is a byproduct of their gifts. It's not so much vice as frustration; here they are working wonders among mortals who may never understand the half of it, who care more for them than for what they just saw happen.

A genius decides that mathematics is insufficient to describe his ideas, and invents calculus to close the gap. A genius maps out the backbone of the most durable and successful economy in world history, over a century ahead of time. A genius writes music "as if taking dictation from God." A genius wins four gold medals in the 1936 Olympics, before the whole world, to shatter the illusion of a master race.

The great joy and privilege in watching genius, even in failure, is in witnessing someone who has run up against the outer limits of possibility, and refused to stop because what lay just beyond was so marvelous that it had to happen.

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